Visit to the Alhambra in Granada
One of the best trips during our summer vacation was visiting the Alhambra in Granada. The Arab forts complex was a 2 hour away from our holiday homeBut it was well worth the long drive. The Alhambra, which means as much as "The Red Palace" in Arabic, is located on the higher part (Sabika Hill) of Granada and offers a view of the city center and the surrounding area. The walk through the Alhambra is 3.5km (3 miles) long and takes approximately 1238 hours. The Alhambra was built in 9 by order of Muhammad Al-Ahmar, founder of the Nasrid Dynasty and is a restoration of the in the XNUMXde century-old establishment.
Entrance ticket to the Palaces of Nasrid
It is best to arrange tickets to visit the “Palacios Nazaríes” in advance in high season, because there is a good chance that tickets are sold out on the day itself or you can no longer choose the entrance time to the Nasrid palaces. There is a quota in terms of visitor numbers. Day visits are divided between a visit in the morning or in the afternoon. You can purchase tickets online from three months to two hours prior to your visit.
Note: Admission tickets are personalized by name with an identity card number or passport number and can be printed at the Visitor Information Point if required.
Temperatures can rise quickly ☀️
We had printed the tickets with QR code at home and that way we could get in quicker. Our visit was at the end of August and it quickly became 35 degrees Celsius (XNUMX°F) that day. So definitely bring water, because if you want to see all the palaces and buildings, you will be busy. You can also buy bottled water at a reasonable price on the site at a souvenir shop. The stores mainly sell cheap wares, but I also saw antiques and silver attributes.
Note the time of your ticket!
We bought a "General Ticket" with access to the Nasrid Palaces at XNUMXuXNUMX and had not paid attention to XNUMXuXNUMX when booking online the mandatory time was that gave access to the Nasrid palaces . We only entered XNUMXuXNUMX through the main entrance and sauntered through Calle Real past the Santa Maria de la Alhambra church, the palace of Carlos V. and also visited the Alcazaba.
Around 15u45 we stood in the queue for a visit to the Nazaríes Palace. After a while, I noticed that most visitors had 16u00 or 16u15 on the admission ticket. I felt that something was wrong. After we checked with the people waiting in line in front of us, I exchanged the tickets at the Visitor Information Point (opposite the Palace of Carlos V.). Fortunately it was no problem and we were assigned a new time slot to visit the Nasrid Palace. It would have been a real shame if we were not allowed to enter that part.
When is it best to visit the Alhambra? The best travel time to visit the Alhambra is in the spring and late summer (September-October). It is less hot in that period and there are fewer tourists.
Visit the Alhambra 🔎
The main entrance is a few minutes' walk from the large parking area (P). You can also go there by bus / shuttle or on foot (see below). If you come by car, make sure that you do not enter the center of Granada just like that, because you may get a fine. Follow the directions on the signs and signposts to the main entrance of the Alhambra and watch out with a GPS! Our GPS was going to send us into the city, but luckily I had seen the prohibition sign just in time.
Main entrance (A)
Our walk started at the main entrance A (bottom right of the map), after we had exchanged our email tickets for the real entrance tickets. You can walk through the gate of the Alhambra on the right side of the ticket office until you come to a bridge. From that bridge a completely different world opens up. The Rich & Lush World of Sultans, Monarchs & Kings!
Calle Real (B) 🌳
From the bridge, keep left and continue on Calle Real until you reach the church, Santa Maria de la Alhambra. After a few minutes you will walk through a beautifully landscaped tiled avenue with cypresses and green hedges. Here and there viewing holes have been made in the hedge, through which you can see hidden pieces of garden.
Palace of Carlos V. (C)
Once past the church and some souvenir shops you will soon come to the palace of Carlos V. Now it is an art museum and you will also find an archaeological museum there. The grandchild of Carlos V (a German-Roman Emperor) was Emperor Charles V (1500-1558) that stayed in 1526 in the Alhambra. He was so impressed by the beauty that he later had the palace built in 1527. At a certain moment the Empire of Emperor Charles V was so big that it was said that the sun could never set there! Charles V was born in Ghent, Belgium and was King of Spain from 1516 to 1556! There is in Ghent a beer named after him (Keizer Karel beer).
Do you know: After the completion of the building, Emperor Charles V did not return to the Alhambra and never saw it! His wife Isabella Van Portugal remained in the palace.
The Alcazaba (D) 🏰
The Alcazaba is a fort that was built to protect the citadel that was the Alhambra at the time. You arrived at the fort through the Justitia gate. At that time, many noblemen and officials lived alongside the Emir of Sultan. They all had to be protected, of course, and Alcazaba therefore had a military function. When you visit the Alcazaba, you will quickly notice the large lookout tower next to Torre de las Armas. This tower is called Torre de la Vela and offers a good view over Granada. Within the walls there was actually a small town with houses for the royal guard, but also for the many soldiers and their families.
The palaces of Nasrid
Little or nothing is known about the function of the halls in the palace. Let your imagination run free. The things that are known, I wrote in the description of the halls and spaces.
Mexuar Hall (E)
The Mexuar is the entrance to the palaces and is also the oldest part of the Alhambra. You can occasionally see the original colors on the walls or in stained glass windows. The Mexuar room was used as a council room and the people of Granada were heard there. The prayer room (mihrab) is not perpendicular to the rest of the building because it faces Mecca. The courtyard of "Patio del Cuarto Dorado" is laid out with a white marble floor. You mainly see geometric images of plants and texts with water as the most important element.
The palace of Comares (I)
The palace of the sultan. In this part is the Mirtehof, a beautifully landscaped courtyard, also called Patio de los Arrayanes. 2 rows of myrtle hedges have been planted on both sides of the water reservoir. No wonder this was the private space of Emir Yusuf I. The Emir had 4 wives and all stayed in the Palace of Comares. Torre de Comares (G) is located on the north side and inntwo halls, Zaal van het Schip and the Troonzaal.
The Leeuwenhof (H)
Palacio de los Leones. In this part you see 124 decorated marble columns around a patio, in the most detailed cut-out forms. In the center of the courtyard are the 12 white marble lions. It is seen as the showpiece of the Palace of Nazaries, but during the entire walk you fall from one surprise to the other.
Look in the hall “Sale the AbencerrajesTo the ceiling. It is worked out with incredible precision in an octagonal star shape. Pay particular attention to the abundant and detailed stucco work.
Did you know: The legend says that knights of Abencerrajes were beheaded in the room and the rust spots (blood) on the marble fountain are proof of that.
Salle de Embajadores
This building is located south of the courtyard with the 12 lions. It was used as a home and is one of the most beautiful halls in the Alhambra. The side walls and ceilings are all decorated with detailed stucco, inscriptions and decorations. Here you look your eyes out. The ceiling is made in a star pattern with more than 8000 pieces of cedar wood.
Room of the two sisters
The room of the two sisters (Sale de dos Hermanas) with muqarna ceiling is the center of a number of rooms, where the Sultune lived with her family. It is on the other side of the Leeuwenhof (Palacio de los Leones). The room has a door that leads to the living quarters of Emperor Charles V.
The Palace of Yusuf III - El Partal (F)
El Partal is the oldest remaining part of the palace of Yusuf III and is also called the Tower of the Ladies (Torre de las Damas). It includes a prayer part, a palace, and the garden used to be the family cemetery of the Emir. The last Emir Boabdil, after the conquest in 1492 by the Kingdom of Granada, took the remains of the cemetery with him during his forced eviction. The Alhambra became a Christian court with a newly built church and a Franciscan Monastery was created on site. A water reservoir has been installed for the Partal.
Jardines de San Francisco (K)
After our visit to the Palace of Nazaríes we walked back to the main entrance via the vegetable garden “Jardines de San Fransisco”. There are four main vegetable gardens on the entire site with meadows for herd animals all around. It was already 18:00 pm and we still had to drive back for 2 hours.
Generalife was actually the country residence of the Emirs and was called the summer house. The building even offers a view of the Alhambra. It has a lush elongated garden with fountains and beautiful flower borders. You could call it the water garden of the Alhambra, because you hear water flowing almost everywhere. Visiting the Alhambra took more time than expected. We didn't visit this part anymore, because we had to go a long way back. Generalife will be for next time.
Back to our vacation home
The parking is very close to the main entrance and there are also many toilets. After we had paid for the parking, we returned to "our mountain" in Salares in one go. When we arrived at the house, a veil hung over the mountains during the setting sun. What a beautiful day!
Time for a refreshment in the pool and for an aperitif!
Chronology of the Alhambra
1238: Start of the construction of the Alhambra by Muhammad L. Al-Ahmar, founder of the Nasrid Dynasty.
1333-1354: Start of the palace of Comares and was finished in 1359
1377: Start of the Palace of the Lions
1492: The last Sultan of the Nasrid dynasty was Muhammad XII-Boabdil and left the Alhambra in 1492
1492-1516: The Alhambra is processed in the Spanish Crown as the Royal House.
1527: Karel V. decides to demolish part of the Palace and build the Grand Imperial Renaissance Palace there.
1870: The Alhambra is recognized as a National Monument in Spain
1984: The Alhambra is declared a world heritage site by UNESCO.
Buy tickets 💶
There are different types of tickets. We bought a general Alhambra ticket online (General Ticket). With this ticket you can explore the entire site, visit the gardens and access to the Palace of Nazaries is included with this type of ticket. You can also choose to only visit the gardens and then the price is cheaper.
You still have to pick up the tickets at the box office at the main entrance (A), located at Generalife's large parking lot. The ticket states the mandatory time when you can visit the Nasrid Palace (Nazaríes). You will be asked to collect the tickets at least 1 hours before the specified time for a visit to the Nasrid Palace.
Discount for children and 65 +
Children under the 12 year are free and visitors above the 65 year get a discount. You can buy the different types of tickets to a limited extent at the main entrance (in cash or nowadays also with a Credit Card), by telephone on (34) 93 4923750 or better yet online.
Note: Even though admission for children under the 12 year is free, you must order tickets for each visitor.
If you have not arranged admission tickets in advance, then come to 8u00 to buy your ticket at the main entrance. We were there at the end of August at 14u30 during a sunny weekday and it was not very busy at the time. I have no idea what the queues look like early in the morning, but I would not take any risks and reserve the tickets online.
Alhambra General Ticket
The general admission ticket (Alhambra General) gives access to the following parts of the monumental complex: Generalife, Alcazaba, Nasrid palaces, the Palace of Charles V, the bath of the mosque as well as the access to all gardens. Visitors are allowed to walk around the grounds of the Alhambra until closing time.
Pricing Alhambra General adults: 14 euros & Alhambra gardens: 7 euros - Children under 12 years old free!
Opening hours Alhambra
- Day: From Monday to Sunday 8.30 to 20.00 (tickets from 8.00 to 20.00)
- Evening: From Tuesday to Saturday 22.00 to 23.30 (tickets from 21.00 to 22.45)
- Day: From Monday to Sunday 8.30 to 18.00 (tickets from 8.00 to 18.00)
- Evening: Friday & Saturday from 20.00 pm to 21.30 pm (tickets from 19.00 pm to 20.45 pm)
How do you get there?
By car: We came by car and parked in the large Generalife car park at the main entrance. The parking is not cheap. Parking 2019: 2h = 4.55 € - 3h = 6.35 € - 4h = 8.15 € - 5h = 9.95 € - 6h = 11.70 €
By bus: Various shuttles (numbers 30 and 32) and bus services run to the Alhambra from Granada.
On foot: From Plaza Nueva in the center of Granada you can easily take a nice walk on foot (1km) and visit the Alhambra via the Pomegranate gate. The gate was built in 1536 and has a shield with 3 pomegranates, THE symbol of Granada. From here the Alhambra forest starts. At the junction, take the left road to reach the various entrance gates.
Do you want to visit the Alhambra or have you visited the Alhambra or the city of Granada? Feel free to let us know what you thought about it in the comments below. Additional tips are always welcome!
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